From March 7th to 11th, 2023, Natural Products Expo West was held as scheduled at the Anaheim Convention Center. The theme of this year’s event is “Reimagining Growth,” focusing on natural and organic clean-label foods. The innovation of solutions, nutrition and health products, and functional raw materials, the main participating enterprises include raw material suppliers, brand suppliers, OEM enterprises, distributors and retailers, etc.
According to incomplete official statistics, about 67,000 people participated in the exhibition this year, and more than 3,000 exhibitors, of which nearly 900 companies participated in the Natural Products Expo West exhibition for the first time, and these exhibitors displayed thousands of new products.
Below, we will explain the highlights and trends of this year’s exhibition from the development trends of the six major industries.
The Competition In The Plant-Based Subdivision Track Is More “Intense.”
In the past two years, the popularity of plant-based foods, which has attracted much attention from the market, is experiencing a serious “split.” Based on the rising market inflation rate, continuous supply chain interruption, and the reduction of venture capital funds, the entire vegetable meat track is constantly “sliding,” facing the coldness of both capital and consumers. The sales of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, the representative global vegetable meat companies, have decreased. At the same time, they are constantly avoiding market risks through downsizing and layoffs.
While sales in the plant-based meat market continue to decline, consumer interest in plant-based foods is increasing. A February 2023 study by Coefficient Capital showed that 50% of Gen Z and 53% of Millennials said they were interested in consuming more plant-based products, up from 41% in a June 2022 survey. VS 48%), while Generation X and Baby Boomers also show an increased interest in plant-based foods. According to data from Informa Markets, 333 plant-based exhibitors and 785 vegetarian exhibitors were at this year’s exhibition, accounting for 1/3 of the total exhibitors. Judging from the products launched by exhibitors, plant-based meat and plant-based milk are the basic product tracks, and many brands are extending the range of plant-based products, including plant-based cheese, seafood, candy, condiments, and other segments, and even baking Vegetable packaging for food.
The market competition for the plant-based track has risen from the original raw material dimension to multiple dimensions such as technology, supply chain integration, and marketing channels, and the market competition is becoming increasingly fierce.
Startup Climax Foods, for example, is taking a data-driven approach to producing a new generation of plant-based cheese. Climax Foods is a data-driven startup company dedicated to understanding the flavor profile of animal products at the micro level through a proprietary intelligence platform to improve the speed and scale of production.
The show introduces a new generation of plant-based cheese products, including plant-based Kibrie, blue cheese, feta, and Chevrolet, which offer complex flavors, creamy textures, and protein levels to match cheese, containing Healthier fats and no gums, fillers, artificial additives or GMOs.
Also competing on a technological dimension is startup Eclipse Foods, which uses micellar technology to produce alternative plant-based dairy products without sacrificing taste, texture, or function. Impartial is trying to facilitate the formation of micelles between vegetable proteins, starches, and oil droplets in a non-dairy liquid matrix that replicates the micellar structure in milk, where caseins fold into spherical structures so that they can interact with Minerals such as calcium are suspended in the water together.
Digestive Health Continues To Receive Attention.
According to a survey released by the International Food Information Council in 2022, nearly 3/4 of American consumers list digestive system health as their health priority, and 24% of the respondents listed it as their top priority. Consumers in the digestive health category pay more attention to intestinal health, including intestinal microbes, brain-gut axis, probiotics, prebiotics, and other subdivisions.
At this year’s exhibition, many products focused on digestive health, including nutritional supplements, food and beverages, and functional ingredients. For example, Organic India, a herbal supplement brand, launched new digestive health products at the exhibition. The main ingredients are citrus leaves, cress, psyllium husk, etc., which can be used as substitutes for senna leaves, which can be used safely and continuously without harming health. Bowel motility and function provide mild relief without causing gastrointestinal discomfort.
US company Supergut showcases a range of nutritional shakes and bars made from a blend of resistant starch fibers linked to metabolic health, digestive health, improved mood, etc. The fiber blend includes unripe green bananas, potato starch, β-glucan, soluble fiber, etc., and can reach 70% of the daily recommended fiber intake.
At the same time, FrieslandCampina Food Ingredients displayed a high concentration of 94% galactooligosaccharides Biotis®GOS-OP High Purity at the exhibition, which is higher than other prebiotics currently on the market. Relevant scientific research has confirmed that the ingredient can produce effects at a dosage as low as 2 grams, helping brands manufacture nutritional supplements that meet consumer needs easily.
Upcycling Food Has Become A Trend.
Food waste is a major global problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations, approximately one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted each year. In response, the food and beverage industry is setting off a trend of “upgrading and recycling,” calling on people to pay attention to the by-products of production and processing and to discover new highlights from these wasted substances.
In this exhibition, you can find a lot of products that focus on the upcycling category, which are composed of various upcycled ingredients, including cocoa pods, whey, beer grains, coffee leaves, bean dregs, juice pulp, etc.
Pulp Pantry has launched tortilla-style chips made from waste collected from vegetable juice processors. The startup repurposes celery, cucumber, and kale leftovers, sourcing pits, peels, stems, and damaged or unsuitable produce, which currently includes veggie crackers, grain-free granola, and baked goods.
In addition to developing conventional food and beverages, some develop high-value-added functional raw materials from by-products.
Brightseed is a US-based startup using artificial intelligence technology to identify untapped plant bio-actives. This time, Brightseed Bio 01, a new upcycled fiber from hemp husk, is a dietary fiber containing two active compounds, namely N-trans caffeoyl tyramide (NCT) and N-trans Feruloyl casein (NFT), the fiber’s potential to maintain gut barrier integrity, may open new markets in the gut health space.
Another popular upcycled ingredient is whey, the protein-rich liquid by-product of cheese and Greek yogurt production. Its protein content and functional properties (including water binding, browning, foaming, emulsification, flavor enhancement, and texture shortening) are ideal and can be used as a partial or whole egg replacement.
Functional Mushroom Market Continues To Boom.
According to data from Grand View Research, the global functional mushroom market will reach US$26.7 billion in 2021, of which the food and beverage industry accounts for 42.10% of the overall market. It is a thing to expect that grow at a CAGR of 10.8% from 2022 to 2030, mainly driven by the rising consumption of packaged food from mushrooms and plant-based meat products.
Functional mushrooms are becoming a popular functional ingredient. Many mushroom-containing products were launched at the exhibition, including plant-based burgers, beverages, snack bars, mushroom jerky, potato chips, and mushroom supplements.
Wise Bar is a brand that mainly promotes energy bars. These energy bars focus on raw materials such as Ganoderma lucidum, Chaga, and Hericium Erinaceus. In addition to functional mushrooms, it contains acai powder, almonds, oats, blueberries, strawberries, coconut, lemon juice powder, etc.
In addition to snacks, many beverage products focus on functional mushrooms.
Odyssey Elixir has launched a variety of beverages based on Hericium Erinaceus and Cordyceps Sinensis. The new sparkling water launched this time focuses on energy and focus. It contains 2500 mg of Hericium Erinaceus and Cordyceps extracts and 85 mg of caffeine. It also contains orange blood extracts, Ginger extract, Luo Han Guo concentrated juice, ginseng root extract, L-theanine, etc.
Shroom Junkie launched mushroom vegetable milk at this exhibition, formulated with pea protein fermented from mushroom mycelium and natural flavors made from mushrooms. According to Shroom Junkie, plant-based milk provides 10 grams of protein and is rich in vitamin D and calcium, while adding mushrooms helps mask pea protein’s bitter taste.
In addition, First Person, a functional mushroom dietary supplement brand, launched a product called Golden Hour this time. The main formula includes Ganoderma lucidum, Hericium Erinaceus, saffron Affron, lemon balm, Bacopa Monniera, and other raw materials. The main application scenarios are Cognition, stress, relief, etc., and the product dosage form is a capsule.
The Women’s Health Market Deserves Attention.
According to NBJ data in the United States, the overall women’s health market can reach 2.44 billion US dollars, of which products related to menopause reach 931 million US dollars. At this exhibition, many traditional companies and new companies are targeting the women’s health market with product formulations, focusing on cognitive health, oral beauty, and menopause, which indicates strong growth in women’s health in the next few years.
American raw material supplier HP Ingredients launched a new proprietary mixture called NuFemme at this exhibition, combined with Labisia Pumila and Dongge Ali LJ100 standardized extracts, mainly aimed at women’s consumption scenarios during menopause.
The ingredient has broad-ranging properties and can be used as a standalone ingredient in women-focused products, blended with other proven menopause support ingredients to create targeted formulations, or added to women’s multivitamin product formulations.
In addition to focusing on the raw material side, many terminal brands are paying attention to the women’s health market.
Winged Wellness is a product brand focusing on women’s health. At this exhibition, it launched a soft candy called Love Bites Desire and Stimulation. This soft candy contains various raw materials, including Saffr’Activ saffron extract, maca, tartar Miana, Epimedium, Niacin, and other ingredients. This product uses organic ingredients wherever possible and has been third-party tested.
A Rapid Increase In Functional Food And Beverage.
According to NBJ market data, the U.S. functional food and beverage market will reach US$87.3 billion in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.8%. All functional elements can use food and beverage as a carrier, including biscuits, bread, yogurt, drinking water, milk tea, desserts, snacks, and more. Among them, the fastest-growing categories are sports and energy drinks, soft drinks, frozen desserts, and snacks (potato chips). Popular ingredients include electrolytes, functional mushrooms, adaptogenic herbs, healthy fats, probiotics, and prebiotics.
Compared with probiotics, prebiotics are the star ingredients in beverages at this exhibition, especially in the soda category, and many brands are launching related products. Mayawell launched a variety of flavored prebiotic sodas at this exhibition, including pineapple mango turmeric, raspberry cucumber black currant, and watermelon mint black currant. The key ingredients in this product are organic, hand-harvested agave extract and agave nectar. The product does not contain stevia or sucrose. And it contains 5 grams of dietary fiber to support its good flavor.
At the same time, the Vina brand also launched corresponding prebiotic soda water, which is rich in plant fiber from Jerusalem artichoke, apple cider vinegar, and trace minerals (magnesium, chloride, boron, etc.). There are currently five flavors, and the consumption scenarios are Digestive and gut health.
Also on display will be BelliWelli, a brand of soft-baked nutrition bars for the millions of Americans suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and other gut health issues; Rowdy, a protein bar with prebiotic fiber brands; Core Foods, a maker of chilled bars containing prebiotic starch and probiotic cultures; and Gut Nuts, a brand of fermented almonds positioned as a “postbiotic snack.”
In addition to the trend mentioned above, sugar reduction, sustainability, transparency, and personalization are also the mainstream trends of this year’s exhibition.
In contrast, the domestic health direction has both commonalities and differences with the U.S. market. For example, digestive health, probiotics, sugar reduction, and functional food and beverages are all current mainstream trends, while the U.S. market pays more attention to plant-based, upgraded Reconstruction, and medicinal mushrooms are more concerned about the same origin of medicine and food in China.
In addition, from the perspective of women’s health, the U.S. market pays more attention to women’s menopause and cognitive health, while the domestic market pays more attention to oral beauty, and cognitive health and menopause are still in the process of development.
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